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NHTSA investigating 500k Toyota Corollas’ faulty steering

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Update: NHTSA investigating 500k Toyota Corollas’ faulty steering

02/17/2010, 11:37 PMBY MARK KLEIS

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will formally announce a new investigation, Thursday, into the 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corolla after it received more than 80 complaints. According to a NHTSA official, the investigation will involve 363,000 2009 Corollas and 136,000 2010 models.

Leftlane reported that NHTSA was in the initial screening phase concerning complaints for the 2009-10 Corolla’s steering back on February 9, 2010. Now, NHTSA is reportedly ready to upgrade the case into the investigation phase following its findings from preliminary considerations.

NHTSA is taking its new proactive approach to investigating potential safety concerns to the Toyota Corolla, where it will be starting a new investigation on Thursday. According to CNN Money, the complaints range from the vehicle tending to drift at higher speeds, to excessive steering wheel vibrations, to exaggerated motions from minimal steering inputs.

According to analysis by Automotive News, NHTSA is taking a look at 83 complaints – 76 of which allege that the 2009-10 Corolla’s electric power steering can unexpectedly cause the vehicle to veer off to one side when traveling above 40 mph. The complaints say that the event can be likened to a sudden gust of strong wind, encountering black ice or hydroplaning. The complaints also suggest that attempting to correct the problem can result in over correction – requiring the driver to apply firm pressure with both hands to regain control of the vehicle.

So far, the issue has been reported to have caused 10 injuries during six accidents. Some of the accidents resulted in overturned vehicles – including trips to the bottom of a cliff and a ditch – upside down.

According to Automotive News, Toyota’s quality chief, Shinichi Sasaki, said that Toyota is reviewing the latest investigation and would consider a recall if a safety issue is identified.

“If there is any request for analysis from NHTSA, we are ready to respond right away and take actions,” said Sasaki during a conference in Tokyo. “Of course, if anything is related to safety, it will result in a recall.”

Toyota is not alone in facing newer, more prompt investigations regarding potential safety concerns by NHTSA, as Chevrolet recently faced a new investigation over the 2005 to 2009 Cobalt’s electric power steering after 1,132 complaints were filed concerning approximately 905,000 Cobalts sold over the course of five years.

Several recent recalls by various automakers have involved shared parts suppliers, resulting in recalls extending across brands, but there is no indication that Toyota and Chevy shared any components in their vehicles’ electric steering systems at this time. Toyota first began offering electric power steering on the Corolla with the 2009 model year, which first went on sale in February 2008.



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